for the men in my life

Sharing what God lays on my heart.

Archive for the category “The Family of God”

The human condition

   

 

  There are many things I’ve learned in my life and many of them, I’ve forgotten. At some point in my primary School years I must have learned phonics rules in some way, shape, or form. I obviously didn’t commit them to memory because I was surprised to learn that they exist as an adult. (I also must not have learned them exceptionally well as I am not the best speller!!) I’ve been teaching my my boys to read these last few years in our homeschooling adventures! The phonics rules have regained their usefulness, necessity, and place in my cognitive daily thinking once again!!! It’s amazing how important sometimes seemingly simple things can become.

    One thing I haven’t entirely forgotten is the concept of, “The Human Condition.” I remember in my High School English classes  with teachers, Mark Simon and David Shydecker, discussing and analyzing literature. I remember learning about the human condition. I remember that no matter how different the characters, the circumstances, the conflicts, were from story to story, the human conditions were present in every story. 

        What is the human condition you ask? Well I would define it as the sentiments, the physiological responses, the feelings, the thoughts, and the actions that all humans have in common. Now I don’t mean that we are all the same. If you’ve lived long enough and interacted with people, you know they are all VERY different. But we are all very similar in our Humanity,  or our Human Condition.

   Our human condition possesses several different drives/desires.  One of those is a drive to aquire food. We all need to eat to survive. We share this drive no matter what race, nationality, sex, or age we are. Some people like meat, some don’t, some like veggies, others think potatoes are vegetables. Some people have allergies, some people are just persnickety. Some people love to create foods that tantilize the senses, while others could care less. Some people eat for pleasure, while others eat to survive. Some people are emotional eaters or have addictions to food. Some people eat with intentionality and others just eat.  In the end we all need to eat. 

     I have also observed that humans desire to be loved and accepted. The other side of those desires are fear and rejection. If you watch the news or read Facebook you will observe that humans are really having a very difficult time loving one another and accepting the things that are different about each other. People label these issues as racism, sexism, and prejudices. I think we need to look beyond the labels of the behaviors. I think we need to look deeper and admit that humanity has a tendency to dehumanize that which crosses a line of different that we are no longer “comfortable” with. 

Despite all the things that make us different. We need to remember that we are all Humans, collectively together as a whole group. We are all Humans TOGETHER! 

      We all have moments of fear, rejection and frustrations. Hopefully at some point we all feel joy, excitement, and acceptance too.  Our experiences will be different, our ethnicity, religion, sex, and skin color will be different. But I guarantee that if we could all be honest for one moment, maybe we could acknowledge that all humans experience so many of the similar emotions, thoughts, desires, and drives. 

    These human conditions will vary depending on the circumstances, the intensity in which they are felt, and the frequency in which they occur. Many of these variables will depend on us. They will depend on our choices. They will depend on the perspective and attitudes we choose to have about the life experiences we go through. But, no matter the variable every human will experience fear of some kind, rejection of some type, acceptance from someone, joy in some form, and love in some way. 

    Despite the similarities we must also keep in mind the differences. They both make us who we are. They both together help make “Humanity” the beautiful Mosaic that it is. I think too often we have let those differences divide us from one another. I hope we can begin to remember that we are all human. I hope that we can begin to accept that we may never fully understand one another, and must offer grace and kindness to each other. It’s far too easy to stand in your own circle and fully acknowledge your own humanity while denying the very same humanity of the person next to you because you do not understand or accept what makes them different from yourself.

      Let me drive the point home in another way. The most confident person you know, still feels inadequate in certain situations. The most attractive person you know still feels unattractive at times. The most intelligent person you can think of, still feels like they have so much to learn. The person who seems so full of themselves, still wants to be accepted by others. The person who seems to fear nothing and can face anything still gets sweaty palms, knee pits, and arm pits. All humans feel. All humans have fear. All humans have insecurities. We may feel differently about things. We may have different fears. We may not share the same insecurities, but our humanity is more similar than what meets the eye. 

     If we could step out of our own circle of self and look upon each other with compassion towards humanity, maybe we could change and be more UNITED than divided!
Lord help us to see one another through your eyes. Lord help us to hear the hearts of one another. Jesus help to not respond to one another out of our fears, our insecurities, and our ignorance. Jesus help us to be filled with your love so that we can RESPOND with your love. In Jesus name we ask these things Amen!

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Reconciliation

In this post I want to share what I’ve been learning about forgiveness and reconciliation. The reality of what these two words mean for humanity and our relationships is truly profound. It’s not my truth. It’s God’s truth! And this is another great example of His majesty and His wisdom. He knows what our hearts need before we ever do!

Let’s start with forgiveness. I will assume that most of us understand forgiveness as a choice to let go of the hurt someone caused us. It doesn’t make the person, the words, or actions against us okay. It just means that we will not hold on to the hurt and seek retribution for ourselves. Let’s Take a look at what scripture says about forgiveness.

Mark 11:25 (NASB)
   “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that you’re father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.”

Matthew 18:35 (NASB)
   “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart.

This verse in Matthew is at the end of a story Jesus used to answer a question Peter asked about forgiveness. Please look it up and read it for yourself. My summary is that if you can’t forgive others, then God will not forgive you.
The verse in Mark, in my perspective, hints to the same truth, just a little nicer.

I have learned that forgiveness is HARD. It’s rigorous. It’s like climbing a mountain. I think I have forgiven someone and then they do or say something similar and all the hurt comes up again. I believe that this is a spiritual battle. I believe that we as Christ followers must choose to continue to forgive the person, even when we don’t feel it. I think we need to choose to not dwell on, verbally or mentally repeat the offenses over and over.

Don’t misunderstand me please…this is a complicated issue that a great book has helped me understand, Peacemaker by Ken Sande. All situations CAN NOT be handled the same. That’s why it’s like climbing the mountain. Every move is different. Every situation requires God’s specific instructions. Sometimes you forgive and forget without even mentioning it to the person. Other times you need to have a conversation, hopefully covered with prayer and love, and unfortunately sometimes you have to forgive that person and remove them from your life for a time or even forever. But that should not be decided in haste without God’s wisdom and truth.

Now that we have summarized forgiveness, please read more than this because I’m no expert, let’s talk about reconciliation. I believe that reconciliation is a huge part of relationship. Let’s face a simple truth here, we are all human. Not one of us humans are perfect. Which means, we are all going to cause someone else pain, frustration, and at the very least annoyance.

I believe that God wants us to love one another well. I believe that God wants us to reconcile with one another when we have hurt someone. I believe that
God wants us to reconcile when someone comes to us and says we have hurt them or offended them.

So what exactly is reconciliation. What does it look like. To me, reconciliation is when we take responsibility for our actions, our words, our facial expressions, our tones of voice, our lack of loving another person. Simply put, it means saying “I’m sorry, I was wrong to (fill in the blank)” I don’t think it matters what the intentions are at the time of the hurt. I think what matters is that we apologize, because we love and value the person we hurt. We value the relationship with that person, so we set aside our pride and let God’s love lead the way.

Here are some scriptures that have helped me come to the aforementioned conclusion.

Ephesians 4:17-32
Luke 7:23
Matthew 5:23-24

Like I said forgiveness is HARD, I think reconcilation can be even more difficult. One of our new favorite sayings in our house is, ” Do what is right, not what is easy.”

It’s not what I’m saying…it’s not what you’re hearing

 

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Genesis chapter 11 contains a very interesting story. The story of a people coming together for a common goal. It would seem like a great idea, but the heart of the people were not focused on the heart of God. They were focused on themselves. It’s the story of the tower of babel.

I’ve read this story several times. A couple morals of the story are, that no human can reach heaven on their own, and humans should not make themselves idols to be worshiped. Very Good lessons to learn, about who we are and what are physical limitations are.

This week as I was reading this story to my boys out of The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. It occurred to me, there is more to learn from this story about communication.

I’m sure we all have had at least one experience about a misunderstanding with another person that involves the words we said and the words we heard.
I feel as if these types of misunderstandings happen often in my life.  This time as I was reading through the story, it jumped out at me that God confused their tongues intentionally.

   His purpose was to confuse them and create offense between them. His intention was to separate the people, in order to stop them from building the tower. Now, do I think God wants us all to be rude and unkind, NO! But let’s take a step back and examine God’s law. First and foremost, Thou shall have no other God’s before me. The people in the story of babel were making themselves gods before the other people not in the tower, and to each other. They were filled with their own pride. God intervened because He knows what is best for our hearts. Having ourselves and other people at the center of our hearts, minds, and focus is disastrous at best.

   God created us for community, but that community should not come before our relationship with Him. God created us for intimacy, but it should come with Him first. God created us for many things, but He should be First in everything.

  When I speak, am I speaking because I want to be heard, I’m nervous, I want to be right, or because Jesus is asking me to speak?  I find that when I ask the Holy Spirit to give me the words to speak, most times it turns out better.

   The other side of the coin, is the listening. When I hear others, sometimes, okay more often than I’d like to admit, I’m easily offended or brokenhearted by what they have said. BUT, ( and yes it’s a BIG BUT!) do I need to be offended and hurt? When I stop and ask my heavenly Father, more times than not, He says no. He helps me understand His truth for my life and helps me let go of what isn’t necessary.

  In all our humanity, in every aspect, in everything we attempt, WE need God. We need His wisdom, His love, His perspective, His Grace, and His mercy.

Especially when communicating, we NEED God to intervene.

One of my favorite poets, Javan, wrote about this very issue. Here is my best paraphrase, if I speak, but not with my words. And you listen, but not with your ears, then maybe we can communicate!

Abba, helps us to come to you. To talk to you and hear from your heart first. Lord humble our hearts an minds so that we seek you before attempting anything on our own. In Jesus name, Amen.

For there is no other way to be happy in Jesus…but to…

This is the question from the First Five App from my devotions this morning.

If you are not familiar with the First Five app, I highly recommend going to your app store, downloading it, and start immediately! It has been nourishing my soul.

Anyways…the question that has inspired this post:
When the people heard that God was going to spare their lives and pass over them because of the lamb’s blood, they bowed and worshipped Him. (Exodus 12:27) By doing so, they honored God. How could you honor God for sending Jesus as your Passover Lamb?

Well the best way for me to answer this is to share a part of my heart, my life, a conviction that has only grown stronger with age.

I was a junior in college. I lived in Howe hall on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University. I was happily dating my now husband. I was trying to get my life figured out! I like to have a plan. I like to have answers to questions.  Sometimes more importantly, I like to give answers to questions. You see at that time in my life I did not enjoy saying, “I don’t know.”

So, God had me stuck reading John chapter 15. It felt like months went by before I could read another passage of scripture. My prideful controlling heart wrestled with the truth in that chapter. I grasped enough of that truth at that time for God to release me. But God had used that time and grown His wisdom in my heart and mind.

The conviction was that if I wanted to love God, to serve Him, to honor Him, then I needed to TRUST & OBEY Him. Okay. Simple enough right?

Yea, not so much. In some things, I trust and obey quite well. In other things it’s a real struggle. It has take me 15 years to get to the understanding that I have today. The understanding that I want to share with you.

I’m learning to surrender. It is in surrendering the illusion of my control, that I can begin to trust in my Jesus. When I can trust in my Jesus, the obedience becomes easier.

The disobedience arises when I think my plans are better than God’s. That my knowledge is enough. Do you read the arrogance in my prior thinking and sometimes still…I get caught back there. I must repent and confess my sin, humble my heart before God, and seek Him.

To honor God I must trust and obey. To trust, I must humble my heart and mind. I must acknowledge that God’s plans and wisdom are far better than mine. When I accept that truth and rest in that truth…I can more easily trust my sweet Jesus. When I trust Him, I can more easily obey Him.

Teaching my children to trust in God and obey without delay, have taken my understanding of John 15 to a whole. ‘nother. Level!

Have a blessed day obeying without delay!

Rebecca 🌻 Posted from WordPress for Android

Forgiveness

I’ve recently realized that I have a tendency to hold a grudge. I have a hard time forgiving people who hurt me. It’s not that I always want vengeance, but I wrestle with complete forgiveness.

I thought that when I became a Christian and learned to forgive my parents and my sister that I had mastered forgiveness. I didn’t think anyone would ever be able to hurt me that deeply that I would have to work that hard to forgive.

WOW…was I ever wrong. I’m learning that I must choose to continue to be teachable as life comes. Learning from the past will help, but ultimately I can not learn everything right now and just coast. At every step and turn I must walk in pace with God and learn what He wants me to learn in that moment.

I’m learning that I need time and space from those who hurt me. I need time with God away from others. I need to let God’s love heal me and empower me to forgive others.

(I’m learning that I need to find another word for learn!)

Here are some songs that God has been using to speak His truth and transform my heart.

Forgiveness, by Toby Mac

Forgiveness, by Matthew West

O God forgive us, by For King and Country

Rebecca 🌻 Posted from WordPress for Android

Time

Time…it’s the only resource that is completely limited. No matter who you are, no matter how much money you do or don’t make…there are only 24 hours in each day.
We hear cliches that time is money…it’s one of my favorite leveraging cliches…maximize your time, take your time, time heals all wounds…

Time heals all wounds. Time? Heals? ALL wounds? Is that even biblical? Well I’m learning to believe that it is. I don’t think it’s the time in itself. I think it is what God does in our hearts in that time.

Let’s look at some stories of God’s people in the bible. Please take some time to read these stories in more depth and see how God speaks to you through them.

The first story that I’ve seen God use time apart because of human selfishness is with Jacob and Esau. In Genesis 27-30 we find that Jacob steals Esau’s blessing. This enrages Esau to the point that he desires to kill his brother. It was the final straw that broke Esau’s heart. Through manipulation of Rebeckah, Jacob is sent away to get a wife. He is gone for at least 14 years.
For several reasons, Jacob decides to go back home.  As Jacob is returning to the land of his father…he is hesitant. 

Genesis 33 unfolds the meeting of these 2 brothers. Jacob is fearful and desperately trying to win favor from Esau. The beauty of God is revealed when Esau runs to Jacob, hugs him, and kisses him! Time healed Esau’s heart. He no longer desired to kill Jacob. He loved his brother.

Another story of brothers just one generation later involves Joseph, Jacob’s most favoured son. There are so many details and things to learn from this story, but I want to focus on Genesis 45:4-9. Joseph is able to forgive his brothers and love them despite what they had done to him years earlier.

Over the years Joseph kept himself humble before God, though he wasn’t humble as a young teenager before his brothers. This humility allowed him to receive God’s perspective of the entire situation. That same humility was the vessel that brought God’s peace to Joseph. It was the time apart that allowed Joseph to become what God intended him to become. Time and God not only made the man, but it changed his heart and set him free. God’s time, healed Joseph.

The last story I want to share comes from the book of Joshua chapter 20. The cities of refuge. The people have entered the promised land and God is giving instruction to organize and settle His people. I love that God knows us so well. He knows that we aren’t perfect and we make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes aren’t such a big deal…but other mistakes can be treacherous.
So God tells the people to set up cities of refuge. A city that a person can run to in the event that they accidentally kill a person. The city must hear the story of the guilty party and THEN, they must protect him from the blood avenger of the dead. He must live in that city until his trial AND until the high priest at that time dies.
I think this is so profound in many ways.  The person could wait an entire lifetime! I find it amazing that there is no set prescribed number of years to wait. It allows room for God’s sovereignty. Only God knows our hearts, our hurts, and our hesitations.  No person can decide for another when there has been enough time. Time to grieve, time to heal, and time to repent.

I believe that when we humble our hearts and our minds before the living God, He will transform us. When I confess my pride, my critical thoughts, my doubts, my fears, my hurt, and my selfishness…when I surrender those things…I see the toxins they really are. It is in those moments of honesty with God that my heart is moved to repentance. Once my heart desires repentance then my mind and my heart are free to be transformed by God’s perfect truth. This all happens in His perfect timing! I believe that God uses time as His tool to help change the hearts of His people!

Be free my brothers and sisters! Choose His freedom!

Rebecca 🌻 Posted from WordPress for Android

Watch “If We’re Honest (Lyric Video) – Francesca Battistelli” on YouTube

Since my honesty post the other day, this song has been in my head.

I think the best honesty is when we are honest with ourselves. God has me reading in the book of Romans. The message version. I found this little gem:

God pays no attention to what others say (or what you think) about you. He makes up his own mind.
Romans 2:9-11 MSG
http://bible.com/97/rom.2.9-11.MSG

So here is some honesty. I used to call myself a people pleaser. It was an excuse I used to justify my disobedience to God.  I’m not using that excuse anymore. I’m not labeling myself that way anymore. I’m going to please God. I’m not going to be afraid if my obedience to God may hurt or offend others. From the words of my sister-in-law Debra Greer, “God will walk them through their hurt. ” So I will trust God and please Him!

Honesty vs. Kindness

For those of you who know me, I’m not always direct. Okay sometimes I am, but when it comes to potentially hurting someones feelings, I don’t like doing that.

Words have power. In my world, words either build up and connect people together, or they tear people down and create distance. So if being honest means hurting someones feelings, I choose kindness first.

This approach has become a source of contention in some of my relationships and for me personally. I know that people are different than me. I am discovering that there are people who value honesty above kindness. I struggle with that. I struggle in the sense that I think they should be interdependent. Honesty without kindness is just hurtful and destructive. Kindness without honesty is useless and fake.

I believe that we as people all have a perspective or lens in which we view the world, people, and situations. I don’t believe that a truth developed by a human is absolute. I believe that God is the only source of absolute truth. So
when we share with people, because we’re just being honest, I challenge “us” to evaluate the honesty we feel we need to share.  Has it been filtered by God’s perspective or coming out of our own hurt, disappointment, or fill in the blank.

For the people in my life that need me to be more direct, I will be as direct as I can be as long as my kindness is interwoven with it.

God has called me to keep my words and my emotions in check. He’s also called me to please Him before I please mankind. So I will obey. But that means y’all may not like it. And I hope you check it with Jesus first!

My first priority is to reflect Christ. As I think about that reflection in reference to this topic, I am reminded that there are times when we have to ask God to help us see our own sin. We can’t see it ourselves or maybe we have trouble acknowledging it, but the important aspect is that God handles us with honest loving kindness. He doesn’t point his almighty finger and tell us we’re wrong. He settles us in His love, He prepares our hearts in His protection, and creates a safe place in which we can be honest with Him and ourselves.

In my opinion the way God displays His love to reinforces that it is not my place to point my finger and tell someone in honesty what I think they need to fix. I need to love them whether they ask for my help or not. That love may look different depending on the level of honesty and kindness that is allowed. It will entirely depend on how well I am willing to listen to the Holy Spirit and obey.

Here is a great song from one of my favorite bands
Proof of Your Love, by For King and Country

More Choices?

Let me start by saying WOW…its been way too long since my last post.  I have lots to catch up on, but I really feel lead to share more about our choices.

God has been affirming me over and over about the truths He’s been whispering to my soul.

Lets quickly revisit a concept from my post The battlefield of the Mind. There are lies and then there is God’s truth.  In my last post I went over the freedom of having a choice of how we internalize attitudes, actions, words, and events; in this post I want to focus on our freedom to choose what we will believe.  We can believe lies or truth.

In my wonderfully amazing Sunday School class we started reading a really great book.  It will be added to my list.  The Battlefield of the Mind, by Joyce Meyer.  Her book has been one of the ways God has been affirming me in His truth, but also challenging me to delve deeper into His truth.  In the last few months I have become very aware of what kinds of thoughts are floating thfrough my mind.

I have observed the following: daydreams, what if scenarios, suppositions, reminiscing, repeats of conversations, and just flat out inappropriate things.  Some are positive, some are negative, and some aren’t necessarily bad just thoughts and time wasted.  I keep thinking and meditating on this scripture: 2 Corinthians 10:4&5 (NIV)

 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

I have been mulling over the concept that if we take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, they have divine power.  Wow…I mean Wow.  If I would just quite daydreaming, and repeating negative words and situations,  stop creating problems before they start, and assuming people will have ill against me and my ideas…Wow…so many negative thoughts. So much wasted time.

What truth and what divine power could Jesus put in my life if I start replacing the lies, the distractions, the meaninglessness with His good and perfect truth?  
 
That question brings me to this next verse from Romans 12:2 (NIV)
 
Do Not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
 
(Sorry about all the Italics, technical difficulties…I’m not so computer saavy) Anywho…The verse from Romans is a promise.  If we will CHOOSE to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, then we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is!!!  AWESOME!!!  But how can we be transformed by the renewing of our minds you ask?  Well I’m so glad you asked.  By taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ!!!  Sounds super easy right?  Well sometimes it is and sometimes it’s not. 
 
The fact of the matter is, it’s still a battlefield.  Our mind, our thoughts, our attitudes, They define us, They shape us, They are us.  So we must continually and constantly CHOOSE to take every thought captive and make it obey our Sweet Jesus.  And when we do…there will be freedom and power in it!!  I love His promises.  
 
My Aunt Cheri taught me this simple little prayer.  I love it.  You can make it specific or keep it general.  But when we pray in His name…we will receive (John 16:24).  The transformation begins when we pray, “Jesus take away the lies in my mind, and replace them with your good and perfect truth.”  I encourage and hope this simple one sentence prayer will be the catalyst for the freedom God wants for your mind and life. 
 
Jesus take away the lies in my mind, and replace them with your truth. 
 
Choose Him first. 
 

How do grace and boundaries coexsist?

This is going to be short.  I apologize ahead of time because I do not remember the person who was speaking when I heard this profound statement.

These last few months God has really been working on my with boundaries of all types.  Boundaries with family members, my children, my friends, my church.   At times I have been successful to implement appropriate boundaries and other times I have failed. When I implement my boundaries with truth and love I have left people and conversations filled with peace, no guilt and no regret.  It is a wonderful and freeing feeling.  Praise God that He wants us to have this.  For whatever reason, when I do not implement my boundaries I do not have peace.  I have hurt feelings.  I have regrets.  And these feelings do not easily go away.  So I want to continue to have boundaries, but at times I feel like they contradict living a life of grace.

Grace…grace…I read a book years ago called, “What’s So Amazing About Grace?”  I don’t remember most of it, but I know that grace is extraordinary and comes as a gift from God.  We receive His grace and then we should bestow it to others.  So I started to become a door mat at times in situations with people.  Not because of Grace, but because I did not feel that I had the right to tell another person no.  Nor did I, or maybe still do not, possess the tact to always respectfully disagree with people.

What I needed to remember was a simple story in scripture.  When the religious leaders brought the adulteress  to Jesus to condemn her, He did 2 very important things.  The first thing He did was to draw a line in the dirt.  He set a boundary and He did not look to see if any one approved.  He simply and peacefully set a boundary.  Then with His words he reinforced the boundary.  “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  Again with words he reinforces the boundary but He also bestowed grace.  Jesus set her free from what the law said she deserves, BUT he set her free with the knowledge that she needed to make a different choice with her life.

So this profound statement that has brought me clarity with my conundrum  of grace and boundaries IS…drum-roll PLEASE….

Grace without boundaries is enabling.

That is a very powerful statement.  There are far too many variations to give some concrete advise, but I leave you with this.  Talk to your Heavenly Father first. He knows best. He knows our hearts and motives as well as the other persons involved.   One of my favorite prayers right now is…”Lord give my Your words to speak the truth in love.  When I don’t have them please close my mouth.” For some of you you may only need the first sentence.  For others like myself we desperately need them both.

Proverbs 2:1-6
My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
3indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
6For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Blessings and Peace be with you!

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